By Eugene Davidovich
Over the years, medical marijuana patients in San Diego have endured a lack of representation in local governments, raids, lawsuits, eradication efforts, federal interference, and outright misinformation about the issue. Fortunately, we have a new Mayor who sides with compassion and reason instead of ignorance and is willing move forward with regulations.
Tentatively on March 25th, City Council will be beginning the discussion on a newly written and revised ordinance proposed by Mayor Bob Filner which would regulate medical marijuana collectives /cooperatives in the City of San Diego. If passed, the law would establish zoning guidelines as well as operational requirements for their operation. The full draft of the ordinance will be publicly available on the city's website on March, 20th. In the meantime, the Mayor's office released the executive summary that will be presented to council, the list of proposed permissible zones where collectives and cooperatives could operate, as well as a map of those zones. (All attached in this email) In addition, according to the Mayor's office, there is a possibility this item will be continued to a later date in light of a more urgent issue. We should know with certainty whether the item will be moved to another date by Wednesday, March 20, 2013.
That day, whichever one it will end up being, we need all patients and supporters to come out to city hall, sign in to speak, tell your stories and urge city council to move forward with sensible regulations without delay.
Mark your calendars, spread the word, and help create permanent safe access in San Diego!
WHAT: SD City Council Vote on MMJ Ordinance
WHEN: 3/25/2013 - 2pm
WHERE: 202 C St. (12th Floor) San Diego, CA 92101
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - To be included next week in the proposed ordinance:
The issue of whether the medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted to operate within the City began in earnest with the establishment of the Medical Marijuana Task Force (MMTF) in October 2009. The MMTF was established to advise the City Council on guidelines for patients and primary caregivers, the structure and operation of cooperatives, and police enforcement. On November 12, 2009, the MMTF issued its recommendations.
On March 28, 2011, the City Council adopted an ordinance establishing medical marijuana consumer cooperatives as a permitted use in the CR-2-1 commercial zone and the IL-1-3 and IS-1-1 industrial zones subject to restrictions. In general, there were two reactions to the ordinance. The first was that the ordinance was too restrictive in allowing medical marijuana dispensaries in such a limited number of zones and, second, that an ordinance allowing medical marijuana dispensaries should not have been approved. As a result of the first reaction - that the limited zones with an expansive number of buffer areas protecting "Sensitive Receptors"created a virtual ban on dispensaries anywhere -- a petition to place the matter on the ballot was circulated and received enough signatures to require the City Council to either place the item on the ballot or to repeal the ordinance. On September 27, 2011, the City Council voted to repeal the ordinance.
On January 28, 2013, the Mayor committed to the City Council that he would bring forward a new draft ordinance for the Council's consideration within 30 days, and that the new draft would be based on the ordinance the Council passed previously.
This proposal to amend the Municipal Code to permit medical marijuana dispensaries is based on several principles:
· To allow patients in need with a proper prescription access for the compassionate use of medical marijuana throughout San Diego.
· To allow limited competition in permissible zones so that patients can find the strain they need to alleviate their symptoms and to improve the quality of their lives.
· To prevent dispensaries from encroaching on our residential neighborhoods.
· To promote legal and responsible business practices among dispensary operators
· To protect children from unprescribed use.
· To protect public safety.
The draft amendments to the Land Development Code reflect where this proposal differs from the amendments approved in March 2011. The major differences between the previously approved Medical Marijuana Ordinance and this discussion draft are as follows:
· The "medical marijuana consumer cooperative" has been renamed "medical marijuana dispensary" and the definition modified.
· The permit requirement has been changed from a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) Process Four to a Neighborhood Development Permit (NDP) Process Two.
· The number of zones where a medical marijuana dispensary may be permitted has been expanded to include all of the Community Commercial (CC) zones.
· The distance separation requirements from churches, libraries, and youth serving facilities have been deleted, and for purposes of §141.0614 (Medical Marijuana Dispensaries) "school" has been defined consistent with California Health and Safety Code Section 11362,768(h).
· The regulations state that a medical marijuana dispensary may not be located on a premises that includes any residential use.
· The Planned District Ordinance (PDO) zones that may permit medical marijuana dispensaries are now specified in PDOs that have specialized commercial zoning.
· Section 151.0103 has been modified to reflect the current Municipal Code section which was amended subsequent to the March 2011 hearing.
Staff is looking to the City Council to provide direction on how to proceed with the drafting of the ordinance. Specifically, Staff is looking to the Council to provide direction to the City Attorney to draft an ordinance that will: (1) Require that permitted medical marijuana dispensaries only sell medical marijuana to patients who have registered their physician recommendations in the California Department of Public Health's central registry administered in San Diego by the County Health Services; (2) impose a reasonable, annual permit fee of $5000 and a two-percent (2%) excise tax on all medical marijuana dispensary sales; and (3) prohibit the siting and location of medical marijuana vending machines in the City of San Diego.